7 May

Make ‘em laugh. Make ‘em cry. Make ‘em wait. Which is what Grounded does. And it’s absolutely brilliant theatre.

Penned by George Brant, there’s not a single word wasted. The narrative is straight forward, but seemingly innocent phrases and events are revisited, and on each return take on a greater sense of foreboding. It’s magnificent writing. (And director Kirsten Von Bibra gives it the uncluttered simplicity it deserves.)


Grounded is for a single actor. It tells the story of a female officer of the United States Air Force. After becoming pregnant, she’s no longer permitted to fly fighter jets. But she is retrained – and deployed in what is currently the most controversial field of combat. (As Simone Weil would say, it’s only imaginary good that’s simple. The real thing, out in the world, is so hard, and so very, very complex. The glory that is the gender revolution has given birth to a monster: women now share the privilege of being active perpetrators of the horrors of war.)

Grounded is a masterpiece of dramatic irony. She’s after the ‘bad guys’. Combing the deserts of the Middle East, she will find ‘the guilty’. We know she has a dreadful lesson to learn, that she’s painfully naïve, but we like her anyway.

Actor Kate Cole is extraordinary. She creates a character that is tough, almost a ladette, but it’s not all bravado. The character is grounded.  Like Macduff in Macbeth, her emotions aren’t the opposite of her strength; they derive from the very same source. It’s an incredibly moving performance.

I don’t think there’s a spoiler in anything I have written so far, but perhaps there is in what follows. I’m going to briefly discuss the final moments of the play.

After Cole’s character has been inevitably shattered, and we’re busy congratulating ourselves on both our moral superiority and our generosity of spirit for warming to her despite her faults, we’re in for a shock.  She rises from the ashes, more powerful than before, and delivers the most confronting of accusations. It’s not for the complacent. It’s life changing theatre.

Veronica Kaye

Grounded by George Brant

Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre til 16 May

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